How long can a private towing service collect parking fees for a car being transported away and can these amount to thousands? The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) today dealt with a case from Saxony in which the company demanded 4,935 euros. However, the Dresden Higher Regional Court (OLG) only awarded him 75 euros in the appeal process.

Civil courts have assessed such situations differently, said presiding judge Bettina Brückner in Karlsruhe. In addition, it is often complicated to solve everyday problems in civil law; This is also feared by students. The fifth civil senate plans to announce its decision on November 17th. (Af.: V ZR 192/22)

The argument dragged on

The big difference in the amounts in this specific case comes from the fact that the vehicle owner demanded the return of his car a few days after it was towed. However, the company refused to do so as long as the towing costs of around 270 euros and parking fees of 15.00 euros per day were not paid. The dispute dragged on: When the hearing was held at the Dresden Regional Court and the car was released, it had been on the towing company’s premises for 329 days – resulting in a total of more than 4,900 euros.

While the regional court was of the opinion that the plaintiff should pay all costs, the higher regional court overturned this decision in large parts. The owner does have to pay for towing and accommodation on the towing company’s premises – but not indefinitely, but only until he has made it unmistakably clear that he wants his vehicle back.

According to the OLG ruling, it was permissible for the company to keep the car in order to ensure payment of the towing costs. But it can no longer earn stand fees. The towing company, however, appealed.

“There could be a lot to be said for the appeal court’s view,” said Brückner in an initial assessment of the case. The judges also discussed alternative options with representatives of both sides: for example, parking the towed car in a public parking lot and, if necessary, providing it with a parking claw until the towing costs have been paid.

General clarification is hardly possible

Brückner made it clear that many questions arise: In what radius should a free parking space be found? How long do you have to look for it? Can expensive cars be parked in unlit commercial areas? And what if there is a cell phone – potentially stolen property – lying on a seat where it can be easily seen?

According to Brückner, a general clarification is hardly possible in view of this. Maybe it comes down to a woodcut-like solution.

Incidentally, the plaintiff’s sister, to whom he had lent his car, parked illegally in the private courtyard of a building complex. According to the Higher Regional Court, the owner is also responsible for the so-called disturbance of property caused by illegal parking.